Cow Report

  • The folks who sold us Puzzle and Dory told us that Dory would probably calve in very early May, and she probably will. Just in the past few days her udder has begun to swell prodigiously, one of the early indicators.

  • Dory always seemed to be the more skittish of the two, which had us worried about being able to lead her to and from the barn for milking. The kids got a halter onto Puzzle while she was in the milking stanchion, and soon enough she would lead OK. They tried the same with Dory, but couldn’t even get her to stay in the stanchion; the one time they got her in, she actually managed to duck under the side and escape (the design has since been modified).

    Maggie is a patient and steady worker, and she spent hours each day working with Dory, grooming her and feeding her alfalfa pellets and even singing to her. And while Chris and I were away at jam camp, we called home one night and found out that she had managed to put the halter on Dory with absolutely no problem; in fact, she put it on, then took it off to adjust it, then put it back on, while Dory just stood quietly.

    Now it turns out that Dory is much better on the lead. Maggie has been bringing them alternately up to the house and picketing them in the very grassy yard. Dory practically gallops along, while Puzzle plods and quite often decides that the grass along the way needs to be eaten a bit before proceeding.

  • Flies are getting to be a problem. The cows are both covered with them, not only while in the barn but in the field. We do plan to start following the cows with chickens, which we hope will be some help.

  • The wild onion problem is almost gone. The suggestion we got which helped the most was to let the milk container stand open in the refrigerator; that eliminated much of the bad taste and smell. But I think that the changing pasture is also eliminating the problem. Although still there, the smell is not as strong in the fresh milk, and in the past couple of days we’ve drunk batches which have no trace of the bad smell or taste.

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4 thoughts on “Cow Report

  1. Rick, you know the mint-mouthwash-as-flyspry suggestion?

    We sold our cow last week, unfortunately. (Preparing to move back to Cincinnati.) Already miss her badly.

  2. Have you heard of the fly predators? They are a small non stinging wasp that you put on the manure. They eat the larvae. http://www.spalding-labs.com/home.php We want to try them for 3 months in a row this year and see if that helps. I also would like to get a couple of banties for the barn.

    We too had clogging filters. A friend in Virginia just shared with me what she did. She cut up an old cotton t-shirt of her husbands. She uses those little squares for the milk filters. Then she rinses them and washes them. They are not clogging at all on her and are very fine, so they are getting any other stuff out.

  3. Greetings Rick,

    Did you build the milking stanchion yourself? We will be milking in July and I am trying to figure out a stanchion. I know I need to open the Keeping a Family Cow book again…

    Doug Peterson

  4. Matt,

    You’re a better student than I am, even in matters concerning cows. I read the Family Cow Forum comments about mint mouthwash and was so encouraged that I will be picking some up this afternoon.

    As for missing your cow, we’ll bring along some fresh milk if and when you invite us to visit (Cincinnati a three hour drive from here). That is, if we can elude the Ohio ag dept swat teams patrolling the border.

    Marci,

    Please let everyone know how the predator wasps work. We have hopes that getting chickens onto the pasture will help. And I like the banty-in-the-barn idea.

    Doug,

    Yes, Chris built it. Our barn is 20′ x 30′, and the support posts are set ten feet apart, giving us six 10′ x 10′ “stalls”. We put horizontal boards between two of the posts to make a wall, then built another board “wall” to make a narrow (about 28 inch) wide stall, with a place at one end to put a small tub of feed (we use alfalfa pellets).

    The walls are set up so that when the cow is inside munching on feed, a board can be slid across behind her, penning her in. The idea is to give her as little room to move as possible, while still allowing access to her udder. The most important thing to remember is that cows are narrower than you might think. Given that goal you could probably figure out a design for yourself, but I’ll try to take some pictures that show how we did it.

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